This week, whitehouse.gov has launched Reality Check, a new microsite designed to counteract what the Administration believes to be a growing series of mistruths that are being spread concerning the Government’s proposed healthcare reform package.
Like most of the Obama team’s digital efforts, it’s a well thought out and well designed effort incorporating social media tools, online video, and other state of the art digital tools. There is no doubt that the site gives users all the tools they need to find out information about the Government proposal and to share that information with others.
The only question is will it work?
Healthcare reform is not a top 10 trending topic on Twitter right now (although NHS does show up there). However, the “Town Hall Meeting Maniacs” (as some have called them) seem to have become a permanent fixture of cable news channels lately. And whether your political leanings tend more towards FOX NEWS or MSNBC there’s no doubt that you’ve been exposed to this phenomenon. Largely because these disruptions are compelling video that plays perfectly in to the 24 hour news cycle.
The polished videos on the Reality Check site don’t fit the same mold. And people sending Tweets or e-mails with accurate information on government proposals doesn’t make for compelling video either. What they can do is supplement and organize grassroots efforts (as Obama so effectively proved during the campaign). But social media is not a panacea for every communications issue.
If the Administration really wants to try and counteract these protests they need to arm their own supporters with tools and techniques for counteracting these video friendly disruptions. That information can be spread very effectively on the web. But a guy standing in front of one of those protesters tweeting on his smartphone isn’t going to shut them up.
The Obama team has proven themselves masters of effectively utilizing social media in the past. But fighting a campaign in the digital space when the battle is being fought in broadcast media is no more effective than using print display ads to build online communities.
What do you think of the Administration’s efforts to influence the discussion? What would you suggest they do?